BBC completes cleanup of Riverside Auto Junkyard on Acushnet River

The east bank of the Acushnet River, once blemished by a pile of old cars, scrap metal, and shipping containers, now has a cleaner (and safer) landscape. Thanks to efforts led by the Buzzards Bay Coalition, this former auto salvage yard has been fully cleared of all junkyard waste and toxic pollution from half a century’s worth of industrial activity. 

The Riverside Auto site before the cleanup.

The Coalition acquired this property, previously the site of Riverside Auto Sales and Salvage, in 2019.  After the removal of all vehicles and debris, the Buzzards Bay Coalition hired expert contractors to evaluate toxic pollution from chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other industrial chemicals. 

PCBs are extremely harmful to fish and wildlife and have been proven to cause cancer in humans.  

BBC coordinated with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) working in the adjacent New Bedford Harbor Superfund site and cleanup contractors on this project. By the end of the cleanup, nearly 60 dump trucks worth of contaminated soil were removed from the property, disposed of at certified facilities, and replaced with a fresh cap of clean soil. The site will soon be replanted with native vegetation and eventually developed into a park and trail for public access along upper New Bedford Harbor. 

“The junkyard amidst the otherwise natural shoreline right at the edge of the Acushnet River was always such a depressing eyesore,” recalls Allen Decker, BBC’s Director of Land Protection. “It is so satisfying to look across from there now at the natural shoreline and know that we had a hand in fixing the mess.” 

By cleaning and restoring this piece of the Acushnet River, the Coalition is furthering a larger effort to rejuvenate land around the river and upper New Bedford Harbor. This effort has already led to the restoration of former industrially owned lands in and around the growing Acushnet River Reserve, including Keating Woods, The Sawmill, and Marsh Island. 

Bringing  a former junkyard back to its natural state is just one step in a larger, long-term plan for the future of the Acushnet River and its surrounding natural environment. The Coalition is leading the effort to create a greener, safer Acushnet River for everyone to enjoy. 

Category: On the Land

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Working to Save Buzzards Bay

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a membership-supported organization dedicated to improving the health of the Buzzards Bay ecosystem for all through education, conservation, research, and advocacy.

We work to protect clean water on the Bay and on the land: